Schwarzenegger: Health care options

Nurses Activism


Sacramento Bee

To-do list for Schwarzenegger: Health care options

By Rose Ann DeMoro -- Special to The Bee

Published 2:15 a.m. PST Sunday, November 9, 2003

Schwarzenegger would do well to adopt the health care model of the land of his birth. Austrians enjoy longer lives and have more per-capita caregivers and hospital beds, better indicators of quality, fewer uninsured and they spend far less on health care than the United States. Assessing health efficiency in 191 countries in 2001, the World Health Organization ranked Austria 14th, the United States 72nd. In total health performance, WHO rated Austria ninth, the United States 37th.

What separates our two countries is what sets the United States apart from every other industrialized country - a national health care system. An October ABC News-Washington Post poll revealed that by 62 percent to 32 percent, Americans would prefer a universal system rather than our present, flawed, employer-based paradigm. Eight in 10 would make that choice even if it meant higher taxes. Two-thirds, the poll found, believe the nation is headed toward health care rationing.

Health care is California's second-largest budget item at 21 percent of state spending. With budget cuts in the air, community hospitals and clinics, most already in financial duress, have good cause for alarm.

Here's a common-sense health program:

* No funding cuts for local health facilities or Medi-Cal.

* A crackdown on price gouging by hospital chains and insurers that drives up premiums.

* Price controls on prescription drugs sold in California.

* Strengthened public oversight of hospitals and nursing homes to ensure high-quality care, including full enforcement of the new RN staffing ratios.

* Redirection of current health care spending into a publicly financed, privately run health care system that provides universal coverage with one standard of care for all.

If it's good enough for Austria, it's good enough for us.

About the Writer


Rose Ann DeMoro is executive director of the 55,000-member California Nurses Association. She can be reached at [email protected].

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